Any punter taking an in-depth look at the form for a race will usually be taking into account how long it has been since a horse had its last start.

It's generally accepted that the longer the period a horse has been off the harder it is for him to win. Statistics show too, that horses which have a short break between races win the most races.

Of course, there are exceptions, as there are to any rule in racing. Some horses absolutely revel in racing firstup; they win and then their form tapers off, in contrast to the majority of horses, which run ordinarily firstup and then gradually improve.

Let's examine the latest up-to-date figures on the last-start days' factor:


Days since
last start
Percentage% Total
Within 7 30.2 30.2
8-14 37.0 67.2
15-21 19.0 86.2
22-28 5.0 91.2
29 & over 8.8 100.0
A professional punter pal of mine was talking to me only recently about this particular form factor. He told me he considered it the most important of them. And why? His point was, and it's a totally valid one, that recency of last-start performance is an indicator of fitness in a racehorse. The interesting thing about the above chart is that just over 86 per cent of all winners had their last start within the previous 21 days. Think about that carefully. Almost nine out of 10 winners raced within the previous 21 days.

This is a most significant factor in form study.

Of course, nothing is that simple. The problem facing the punter is that a lot of horses in every race would have had their last start within the previous 21 days! Your task is to find the winner from them.

But it's quite a good start, isn't it? The statistics show that over a period of time - say 12 months - you could safely eliminate every horse which hadn't raced for 22 days or more, and you would miss only 1.4 winners in every 10.

Now let's look at other important chart statistics.

1 19.5 19.5
2 12.832.3
313.4 45.7
4 7.5 53.2
5 8.9 62.1
6 7.3 69.4
7 5.5 74.9
8 5.0 79.9
9 4.7 84.6
10 4.4 89.0
11 2.0 91.0
12 3.2 94.2
13 etc 5.8 100.0
Between them, TAB numbers 1,2 and 3 win almost half of all the races run in Australia. This, surely, is a statistic which can help the rank and file punter. Not that you should consider following these numbers in every race! Losing runs will wipe you out.


(After Scratchings)
1 10.5 10.5
2 9.5 20.0
3 7.6 27.6
4 7.4 35.0
5 7.7 42.7
6 6.2 48.9
7 7.2 56.1
8 5.7 61.8
9 5.7 67.5
10 4.9 72.4
11 5.0 77.4
12 5.9 83.3
13 5.3 88.6
14 etc. 11.4 100.0
The significance of barrier draws is not as clear cut as with other form factors, though it is interesting indeed that the first 6 barriers produce almost 50 per cent of winners.

These four articles in my series have covered the full range of form statistics; at least, those statistics which are very pertinent to helping you understand form in all its entirety.

Keep the statistics close-by when you are looking at the formguide. It could well be that you can at the very least use them as a final choice factor when trying to separate two or more horses.

A horse combining most of the main positive factors listed in the last four articles should prove a most useful betting proposition.

How about Horse No. 1 in barrier 1, last raced 7 days ago, a win and a 2nd at its last two starts, favourite in the pre-post betting and top of the tipsters' poll!

Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.

By Statsman